When people around the island talk about high school girls volleyball, Waimea and Kaua’i are the only topics of conversation.
But after a convincing victory on Saturday night at the Bernice Hundley Gymnasium, the girls in green also deserve to get into the mix, by being today’s “talk of the town.”
The Warrior girls volleyball squad earned a piece of history, by clinching their first KIF title in 35 years.
“I think for the girls, even for me and my coaching staff, it was such a big sense of accomplishment knowing that this was a part of school history. (It’s) one of those feelings you can’t describe; I think the girls deserved it and they’re still lifting weights, running, and working extremely hard,” Kapa’a head coach Kaipo Kealalio III said.
To say it’s been a long time since the Warrior girls won a KIF title is an understatement.
However, this year’s squad knows that there’s much more out there than a KIF title.
“I’m only concerned about doing well. We (coaches) thought they could’ve played better, but we’re still trying to settle down. Now we have to focus on states,” Kealalio III said.
The former junior college volleyball setter also mentioned that his team has a better shot at the state title this season, because of their division II tournament classification.
Kapa’a also moved up a spot to number nine in the state rankings, according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Before Saturday night, the Menehune and Red Raiders have dominated the KIF girls volleyball scene.
Former Waimea head coach Doc Arrington led his westside squads to an unprecedented streak of over 20 straight KIF titles. Recently, the Red Raiders have found the right mix of talent and hard work, which handed them the most recent KIF crowns.
Kealalio III, a secondyear head coach, who was once a standout boys volleyball player for the Warriors, along with assistant coach Milo Haneberg, have created an atmosphere that breeds success in Warriorland.
And with only three seniors on their roster, the Warriors aren’t finished with success just yet.
Like any volleyball team, the play of its role players are just as big as the play of its stars.
Kapa’a’s top athletes, Joliann Arzadon (setter), Brittney Carvalho (middle blocker), Poe Gantt (outside hitter), and Amniesty Ragsac (outside hitter), have played up to their potential and then some.
Arzadon, a junior and last year’s KIF all-star setter, should be considered as one of the best in the state. Her precise serves and defensive minded attack, gave Kapa’a’s hitters more than enough opportunities to put Waimea and Kaua’i away.
“Not a lot of people understand just how good she is. She makes things look so easy out there,” Kealalio III said.
But for Arzadon, the game wasn’t always at the net for her.
“Actually my father told me to take a look at her as a setter, because she was a middle blocker at first. So she’s learned a lot from me and she’s improved a lot from the start,” Kealalio III said.
Carvalho and Gantt powered home kill after kill, while keeping Waimea and Kaua’i hitters at bay, with numerous blocks.
“They are tremendous hard workers. They lift more than some of the boys and they’ve earned whatever success they’ve enjoyed this season,” Kealalio III said.
Ragsac, one of only three seniors on the squad, came back from a knee injury to add some athleticism to the lineup. Her great attitude was also a helpful tactic, which helped the team through tough times.
“She brings so much to the table and we’re definitely going to miss her next season. It’s going to be hard to fill her shoes,” Kealalio III said.
Another senior, Kennilyn Nakamura, a multi-sport athlete, (volleyball, basketball, softball) is a key role player for the Warriors, along with libero Crystine Ito, who came up with huge digs at crucial times.
According to Kealalio III, Ito is nursing an injury, but should be back in time for the state tournament.
Junior Leisha Moniz, a service specialist, contributed to the 7-0 record that Kapa’a enjoys today. Senior Lauren Baptiste was also a key contributor in the Warrior back row.
The 2005-06 Warrior KIF champion squad also includes sophomore Leilani Laranio, junior Eryn O’Shaughnessy, freshman Lyndsey Tom, and junior Malia Likio.
Kealalio III is assisted by Milo and Carleen Haneberg, and Al-vin Sasil. Mahie Ferreira serves as team manager.
Meanwhile, the Warrior boys, who are also 7-0, have a chance to clinch the KIF title as well, with a win tonight against Kaua’i at the Raiderdome.
Kapa’a is ranked eighth in the state according to the latest Honolulu Star-Bulletin poll.
The last KIF title for the Warrior boys came in 1994, when Kapa’a girls assistant coach Milo Haneberg was a sophomore. The KIF’s volleyball season ends this Saturday, with Kaua’i battling Waimea at the Clem Gomes Gymnasium.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org